By: Kelly Lenox
Shallow bay sandbox snow— my growing- up years mobile Moving vans my familiars
My mother’s Going home unpacked grandparents cousins
sunshine and jellyfish sting oyster-cut foot and fish fry beans mullet bream hushpuppies
A day further to my father’s folks Cattle egrets below billboards of glass-bottom boats We float Crystal Springs where jungle birds sing
and baseball on TV louvered glass sharp grass grapefruit tree
Once—a bike wreck knee gravel stuck indoors embroidery kit hoop-stretched cotton amber antennae blue wings half-stitched leg healed
Hours in the wagon’s back-back back to whatever town we were home in
Half-remembered houses Newport Annandale Escondido Brick ranch carported split-level the first vaulted ceiling Sisters, brother readymade playmates
What to hold when packers start in?
Decades later my mother closet sorting finds finishes frames it
Comes visiting her grandkids gifts for each
The sea-blue butterfly complete for me.
Kelly Lenox's poems, prose and translations are published or forthcoming in Gargoyle, EcoTheo Review, Hubbub, Split Rock Review and elsewhere in the U.S., U.K., Slovenia, and Ireland. Her debut collection, The Brightest Rock (2017), received honorable mention for the Brockman-Campbell Book Award. She has received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations and holds an MFA from Vermont College. Kelly makes her home in Oregon.
"The short lines and gracious use of blank space in Lorine Niedecker’s “Paean to Place” cradle a great deal of life difficulty. The water images and soundscape captivated me, and a friend charged me with writing an imitation. But my childhood was the opposite of Niedecker’s in terms of place. What got me unstuck was resolving to let mobility and transience carry the poem, with the contrast of grounded lives of my relatives. The embroidered butterfly alit as a surprise and became an important tribute to the sort of small acts a parent can take, which are so easy to take for granted. Plus, I was notorious for not finishing things. That butterfly holds a special place on my wall."